Young people with impressive artistic talents have long pursued musical careers. Recently, “Jersey Boys” was released in theatres. This film tells the story of the rise and fall of the “Four Seasons,” a band popular in the 1960s. Whereas “Jersey Boys” focuses on the experiences of working class urban youth, “Walk the Line,” which was released in 2005, offers a rural perspective on the journey to success.
“Walk the Line” tells the story of Johnny Cash, aka “the man in black.” With a very strict father to deal with, he and his brother were particularly close until a freakish accident with a saw killed the latter, an accident that further embittered his father and haunted Johnny for the rest of his life. As an adult (played by Joaquin Phoenix), he did a turn in the military, and then he married his high-school sweetheart Vivian (played by Ginnifer Goodwin). They lived in Tennessee in the early 1950s. During this time, they struggled to support their growing family. Johnny was a big fan of music and was in a band. One day, he met producer Sam Phillips (played by Dallas Roberts), who agreed to let them audition. Under Phillips careful management, they, like other Phillips’ artists, ascended the charts. Around this time, Johnny met the Carter Family, themselves a musical dynasty, and Johnny had been a fan since childhood. He became infatuated with June Carter (played by Reese Witherspoon), who was already married, as was he. As he became more famous and his attraction to June persisted, he became more of an alcohol and drug addict.
Joaquin Phoenix nails the lead role. He recreates the voice perfectly and is very authentic when he becomes a drug addict. His performance earned an Oscar nomination. Reese Witherspoon is terrific as the tough but tender June, who tries to reform Johnny. Her work won an Academy Award. Another great performance is by Robert Patrick, who plays Johnny’s dad.
The music in “Walk the Line,” of course, very good. One of the movie’s best scenes is a concert in Folsom Prison. Phoenix does impressive work here.
“Walk the Line” is a good choice for fans of biopics.